“What the hell is the ideal Islamic woman anyway?” – Dina Torkia

by indonotes

This was the pointed question asked by the popular British Islamic fashion vlogger looking back on her experience taking part in World Muslimah, a global Muslim beauty pageant hosted in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, as part of a documentary for BBC3.

One such point of contestation is ideas of female modesty in Islam, with Torkia exlpaining in a Guardian interview that through the experience she had come to see ““how the hijab is worn in so many different ways based on different cultures, not religion”” One might add politics to that, with controversies about, and differing understandings of, the headscarf in Indonesia featuring in a series of articles in Inside Indonesia.

The film also raises broader issues of identity – how does a universal religion deal with cultural differences and national identities? Interestingly participating in a global Islamic event seems in some ways to heighten Dina’s sense of difference and national identity, saying:

“Our cultures are so different, and for me that makes it pretty much impossible for any competition to judge who’s a good Muslim and whose not. I’m so British next to these girls. I don’t know what it is but it’s in me. I really didn’t realise how British I am. My British side just came roaring out of nowhere.”